Monday, January 07, 2008

Review: The Spymaster's Lady

One of my sitemeter hits was someone searching for Spymaster's Lady reviews, so I guess I'd better go ahead and get my formal review up.
'Cause, um, yeah...this is one of the BEST books I've read in a long time.
Even knowing some of the big reveals ahead of time (having seen Jo's synopsis when she was trying to decide on a title) I was swept up in the story from page one.  I thought I'd just skim the first few pages, maybe the first chapter, and save the rest for when I finished my own WIP.  Nothing doing.  I had to sit up until after midnight reading the night I got it, and I finished it the next day.
When I finally surfaced, it was as if I'd been suddenly deprived of sensory input.  The story world was so lush, so rich with detail, that I was completely immersed in the world.  Even some of the best Regencys I've read (Balogh, Quinn, Kleypas, Beverly, I'm leaving someone(s) out...) while most excellent books, haven't taken me so completely into that world.
Annique (fka Anneka) Villiers is exactly the right combination of kick-ass and believeable heroine.  She takes care of herself, even in the face of disability, she's able to extract herself from sticky situations, she's not afraid to do what she needs to, use who she needs to, or hurt who she needs to.  She's one of the best at the Game, and at only 18-20 years old.  But!  She's not infallible.  She can be captured, she can be hurt.  And she's so completely, authentically French.  I really felt like I was in her head.
Grey (aka Robert Greyson something Fordham) is the kind of romance hero I like to see: intelligent, deadly, honorable.  And kudos to Jo (ah, I mean, Ms. Bourne) for stating openly he's "not handsome" - who says every romance character, male or female, has to be the most stunning example of their sex?  Yet Annique is attracted to him.  To me, that makes it a "romance" novel and not just a "physical lust" novel.
Speaking of romance...shoo!  A big indicator for me on how into a romance novel I am is if I start skimming the sex scenes.  No skimming here!  I was reading every hot, hot word.  Intimate, smoking, and completely lacking in "purple" prose.  Bourne finds a way to say everything without resorting to jarring euphemisms.  And did I mention it was hot?
The language...oh, the language!  The character's voices are so unique, the differences between French and English so easily discerned - and accurate -  but beyond that just the richness of the prose and the wonderful turns-of-phrase and fresh metaphors make this a joy to read.
Oh, and the history.  This is one meticulously researched, spot-on accurate book.  Hence my total immersion.  And I would sing its praises for that alone.  As I've said before, I'm sick of non-historical "historicals".  Just putting the characters in gowns (or kilts, as the case may be) and having them be "Lady This" and "Sir That" does not a historical make.  And even someone who doesn't read historicals would get into this book, because of the action, suspense, and - of course - romance!
RUN, do not walk, to the nearest bookstore to pick up a copy (or two - this is "gift book" good) of The Spymaster's Lady.  And put My Lord and Spymaster on preorder, while you're at it!
P.S.  And for anyone who has tracked down a copy of Her Ladyship's Companion, pay attention to who answers the door at Number 7 Meeks!  I got a little chuckle out of that.


Tara Parker said...


Just picked up my copy today! Read the first 50 pages on a smoke break (wasted the cigarette because I was so into the book - yay!).

Love it so far. Great review!

Precie said...

Oooh, I've been meaning to add that to my TBR pile! I'll place my Amazon order asap! And what a convenient time to order Vicki Petterson's books too! :)

Janeo said...

I agree, this is the best book that I have read in a long time. I purchased it as an e-book on fictionwise and now I will purchase the paperback. I NEVER do that. Iy was a delight reading about these characters and I am sad that the experience is over... for now. I think this will be one of those books that I read quite a few times.